Instagram, like its audience, relies on trends. That means constantly evolving to ensure that users get a curated feed.
If marketers don’t grow with the platform, their posts will fall to the wayside. If you want the hard work you put into your post to be seen, you’ll have to adapt your marketing strategy.
What is the Instagram Algorithm?
The Instagram algorithm are the rules that determine what a user sees on their feed. It determines which posts go to the top of the user’s page and what posts they’ll discover in the Explore tab.
What does this mean for marketers?
It means that they must put the user first. Your audience does not want content that’s irrelevant and/or generic. The best way to reach big audiences is by thinking small. Instead of marketing to a general audience, speak to the users that will appreciate your brand. A curated post is more likely to appear on the feeds of convertible users.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works in 2022
Instagram is today’s Kodak. An Instagram account captures the wider movements and personal moments that matter to its users. A highly personal platform keeps its users by curating a feed that they will want to stay on and engage with.
The algorithm is the curator of the user’s Instagram account. It favors accounts with unique content that interacts with their audience. The algorithm plays into every aspect of the user experience, including:
The feed is the first thing a user sees when they open the app. It includes posts and stories that stay on the top of the page for a day. Instagram considers the following when ranking a post:
- How many likes the post has.
- The user’s history with the posted account. When a user likes and comments on a post, subsequent posts by the same account will appear higher up on the user’s feed.
Reels are short clips that users can share with their followers. They can be edited with visuals and sound effects. Users can see reels on the explore page or in the feed of accounts they follow. When ranking reels, the algorithm considers:
- The user’s previous interactions with the posting account
- What other reels the user has liked
- How the poster interacts with their followers
- How many likes the post has
The explore tab is the best friend a social media marketer has. This tab introduces users to accounts like the ones they already follow. This is what the algorithm considers when posting accounts on the explore tab:
- How similar the post is to other posts the user has liked
- If the user has had previous interactions with the account
- How much interaction the poster has had
- How many likes the post has
What to Avoid When Marketing on Instagram
The algorithm does not just factor in interactions when ranking a post. Instagram wants to be a safe place for its users. Posts that violate their community guidelines are removed from the platform. Posts that violate the guidelines include:
- Spam: This includes giveaways in exchange for likes and follows fake user ratings, and repeatedly contacting users for followers.
- Violate the Law: Accounts that promote terrorism, organized crime, and illegal sales will be swiftly taken off the platform. Gambling and lotteries are also frowned upon by the platform.
- Explicit Content: Instagram doesn’t want younger users to come across inappropriate content on their feed. Posts with nudity are quickly taken off the platform.
- Impersonations: Posts that steal intellectual property are taken down. Users impersonating other accounts are also removed from the platform.
- Bullying: Accounts that threaten users and post hate speech make the platform an unsafe place. Accounts that post self-harm are not only dangerous to the user but their followers as well. Instagram removes these posts to keep its platform safe for users.
Even posts that meet community standards still risk being downranked by the algorithm. Instagram wants its users to have high-quality content. The algorithm downranks posts that get low interaction. Posts not likely to encourage positive user interactions include:
- Low-quality photos
- Have sensitive content
Instagram Marketing Tips
Instagram marketers have a lot of competition. You have to be savvy to stand out and get to the top of user feeds. Here are some tried and true methods that will get the algorithm on your side:
Users are people who know that they are being sold. They like obvious marketing gimmicks on Instagram as much as they like obnoxious billboards. To reach your audience, you have to prove that you care about your users, not just about selling to them. Two tips you can use Instagram now to connect to your target audience:
- Take advantage of reels. These bite-sized content pieces are as consumable as popcorn. These videos should be concise rather than overwhelm the user with information. Make the content fun by adding music and filters.
- Have good captions. The voice of your captions should change depending on what you’re marketing. Informative content should have long captions that tell a story, while a retailer might write bubbly captions that associate their clothing with relaxing feelings or experiences.
Hashtags do not only give your posts some energy, they also help users to find content that appeals to their interests. For example, someone interested in cooking might search #italianrecipes for inspiration. Marketers need to add relevant tags if they want their content to appear on the explore page.
Avoid making these posts too broad. Users are more likely to search niche hashtags. Specified posts will also face less competition than broad hashtags. For example, posting “#sneakerhead” is more likely to be noticed by a shoe collector than “#shoes”.
Create a Calendar
Instagram marketing is all about timing. Plan to post your content based on when your audience is active. Different users are active at different times. In general, good times to post are between 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Creating a content calendar also ensures that you create consistent posts. If you are not posting regularly, you risk losing your audience. Luckily, platforms such as HootSuite make it easy for marketers to time their posts.
Market a Brand, Not a Company
What is the difference between a brand and a company? A company inspires images of faceless boards solely concerned about products and sales. A brand is a friendly image that represents you or your company. Some ways to give your company personality include:
- Having an aesthetic. An aesthetic is a consistent look that appears on an account’s posts. This creates a good first impression and gives your users something to look forward to.
- Researching your audience. What kind of posts does your target audience like most? Delve into your competitors for inspiration and what selling points your brand has over them.
Talk to Your Audience
The algorithm favors users that interact with their audience. Interaction transforms one-time purchasers into lifelong customers. Engage your followers by:
- Taking advantage of your stories. Start a conversation by posting polls and questions. For questions, recognize good answers and post them later onto your stories.
- Responding to comments. Avoid making your users do all the work. Show appreciation by thanking kind commenters and responding to frequently asked questions.
How to Become a Social Media Marketer
The Instagram algorithm is only the beginning of social media marketing. Social media has a unique capability to connect with your target audience. As a social media marketer, you’ll:
- Increase audience awareness and brand awareness
- Analyze data and audience research
- Strategize campaigns and create posts
Posting on Instagram might be easy, but being strategic isn’t. Social media marketers are savvy businesspeople with the empathy to understand what their audience wants. A marketing degree will build the communication, research, and organizational skills you need. Be sure to take advantage of the internship opportunities your college offers. Internships will help you gain experience and stand out on resumes.
Earn a Marketing Degree and Master the Algorithm
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